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2006 Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Dialogue

Joint Communique

These formal talks represent the inaugural Australia- United Kingdom Ministerial dialogue, which was agreed by Prime Ministers Blair and Howard in March 2006.

International Security

Ministers acknowledged the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to dealing with threats to international security. They recognised the impact of contemporary threats such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and the consequences of state fragility and failure, as well as threats such as the security implications of climate change. The United Kingdom and Australia will continue to work closely in meeting these security challenges, and agreed to increase levels of cooperation in the political and military arenas.

Counter-Terrorism

Ministers renewed their commitment to wide-ranging cooperation to counter the threat posed by international terrorism. They agreed that this would be a generation-long struggle. Ministers emphasised the importance of countering violent extremism, including through reiteration of the shared values of tolerance and pluralism that underpin democratic societies. Ministers agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in researching and developing policies to counter radicalisation and terrorist recruitment both in their own societies and globally. They particularly welcomed the efforts of Muslim countries and communities in countering extremist ideology.

Ministers reiterated their joint commitment to support practical counter- terrorism initiatives, including through support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), which helps to enhance the expertise of South East Asian law enforcement agencies in combating terrorism. They agreed to pursue other forms of cooperation and to look for other ways to work together to combat terrorism globally.

Counter-Proliferation

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to practical action to disrupt illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction, their components and their means of delivery. They agreed to work together to further enhance the effectiveness of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and to seek opportunities to develop capabilities with PSI participants in the Asia-Pacific region. They also noted that the recently established Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) may provide opportunities to expand existing cooperation.

Following the DPRK’s nuclear test on 9 October, Ministers declared their determination to promote comprehensive implementation of UNSC Resolution 1718.

Australia and the United Kingdom discussed Iran’s refusal to comply with UNSC Resolution 1696. Ministers agreed that the international community needed to send an even firmer message to Iran reflecting the concern of the international community with aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. They noted that if Iran’s nuclear program was entirely for peaceful purposes, as it claimed, Iran would abide by UNSC Resolution 1696.

Australia and the United Kingdom expressed their support for the development of missile defences which have the potential to dissuade countries from acquiring ballistic missiles.

Ministers remain committed to working together on practically focused outcomes to help address the threat posed to civil aviation by the illicit proliferation of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS). They agreed to seek ways to build capacity to address this threat in the Asia-Pacific region, for example, through airport MANPADS Vulnerability Assessments and joint efforts to strengthen international export controls and stockpile management practices for these weapons.

Ministers welcomed agreement to the start of a United Nations process to take forward work towards an Arms Trade Treaty. They agreed to continue to work together, and with other supporters, to turn this positive beginning into a treaty that will make a real difference to the lives of those impacted by the irresponsible arms trade.

Iraq

Australia and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their commitment to assisting the Iraqi Government to work towards stability and prosperity in Iraq. They called on the international community to continue to support Iraq’s reconstruction and rehabilitation and commended the International Compact as a way to assist Iraq with its reform program. Ministers reiterated their condemnation of those violent elements within Iraq which seek to deny the majority of Iraqis the right to govern themselves through a democratic political process. They reaffirmed their commitment to the training and development of Iraqi Security Forces to enable them to enforce law and order around the country, and they welcomed progress in transferring provinces to Provincial Iraqi Control.

Afghanistan

Ministers emphasised the vital importance of sustained international engagement in bringing lasting security, reconstruction and development to Afghanistan. The United Kingdom welcomed Australia's participation in NATO's International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan, noting the serious security challenge in the southern provinces, and the international community's determination to ensure that Afghan Government authority is upheld across the country. Ministers recognised the central role of counter-narcotics efforts in stabilising Afghanistan, underpinned by the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy. The United Kingdom welcomed Australian consideration of ways of working with UK counterparts to build the capacity of the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan.

Energy Security and Climate Change

Recognising the linkages between climate change, energy security and economic growth, the United Kingdom and Australia agreed on the need to enhance work on the security implications of climate change and on ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed that this required effective domestic and international policy frameworks which support well-functioning energy markets and investment in low emissions technologies. Given rapidly growing world energy demand and the increasing use of coal globally, rapid advances in the development and deployment of clean coal technology will be essential for effective climate change mitigation. Australia and the United Kingdom are therefore committed to work together on efforts to accelerate the development and application of such technologies, including large scale demonstration of carbon capture and storage.

They also agreed to exchange views on market based mechanisms, such as emissions trading, and on the economic impacts of climate change.

To this end they welcomed the forthcoming UK-Australia Energy Dialogue, which will take place in Canberra in February 2007.

Regional Cooperation

Ministers acknowledged the strategic and economic significance of East Asia and the increasingly active role being played by East Asian countries in global affairs. They agreed that the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) remained an important element of regional security architecture and an example of the commitment of the United Kingdom and Australia to security in the Asia-Pacific region. The also acknowledged the role of the ASEAN Regional Forum, in which the United Kingdom participates as a member of the European Union.

Instability in the Pacific

The two countries expressed concern about continued instability in the South Pacific, noting the recent civil unrest in Tonga and continuing concerns about governance in the Solomon Islands. The United Kingdom and Australia strongly condemned the Fiji military's unconstitutional removal of Prime Minister Qarase and supported the decision by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to suspend Fiji from the Councils of the Commonwealth. The two countries called on the military to return the country immediately to the elected civilian government and to withdraw completely from politics. They agreed to continue to work together to help PacificIslandcountries build stability, democratic governance and economic reforms for the benefit of their people. They agreed to encourage other countries in the region and elsewhere to support the same objectives.

Intelligence relationship

Australia and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their close cooperation in all facets of intelligence and security. Ministers emphasised the mutual value of this relationship.

Military relationship

Ministers welcomed the close and enduring bonds shared by their respective armed forces and restated their commitment to exploring ways to enhance military interoperability and cooperation. In this respect, Ministers welcomed the recent agreement reached by Australia and the United Kingdom under the Memorandum of Understanding on Military Capability Harmonisation and Equipment Cooperation (AUMICE).

Ministers agreed that the next Australia- United Kingdom Ministerial Dialogue would take place in Australia in the first half of 2008.

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British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Margaret Beckett, British Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and Australian Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, met in London on 18-19 December 2006.